I’m using Streams in the Desert as my daily devotional these days. Yesterday morning, this little story was part of the devo:
“I need oil,” said an ancient monk; so he planted an olive sapling. “Lord,” he prayed, “it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers. “Lord,” prayed the monk, “my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray Thee.” And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. “Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues,” cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.
Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. “I, too, planted a little tree,” he said, “and see! it thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me.
I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. ‘Lord, send what it needs,’ I prayed, ‘storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou has made it and Thou dost know.'”
I don’t know about you, sister, but that was a lesson I needed when I read it yesterday.
At first, I was nodding right along with the monk’s prayers: yes, Lord, I need the good and the bad in order to grow; send me the rain, the sun, and the frost.
We’ve all heard that lesson. Some of us, in the early 2000’s, sang along with MercyMe, “Jesus bring the rain!” It’s a familiar concept that we need trials and hardships for our spiritual growth.
Then I got to the part where the tree died. I was taken aback. Even a little appalled. What?! After all that care, God let the tree die?! God, how could You?
Maybe I felt appalled because I’ve been there. I know what it feels like to believe and nurture and pray over something, only to have to watch it die. Do you know what that feels like, too? It feels like being let down and betrayed by God. It feels horrible.
But keep reading.
This other monk has the answer that redeems this story. He knows the lesson we all need to be reminded of when we’re hoping and praying over something.
I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no conditions. I fixed not ways or means. Lord, send what it needs.
He who made your body and your health knows what it needs.
He who made your marriage knows what it needs.
He who made your family knows what it needs.
He who put the desire and the calling in your heart knows how to fulfill it.
He who placed you in this circumstance knows how to redeem it.
He who created your longing, waiting heart knows what you need.
And He doesn’t need us to tell him how to do it.
Lately, I find myself anxious over my circumstances, and as a result I end up trying to control those circumstances. I’m striving to “fix it” myself, while telling God what I need Him to do. How silly. Do I really think I know the situation better than my Lord and Creator does? Do I really think I have any control?
Lord, send what it needs, is my prayer today. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.